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Darren Sammy: A C’bean man with a broad smile
By Alan Harris
Darren Sammy held the World Twenty20 trophy tightly against his chest last Sunday after the West Indies defeated hosts Sri Lanka by 36 runs at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
The St. Lucian Captain, a towering figure in the face of unrelenting criticism, cradled the prize as if it were a new-born child.
"I never worry about the critics … Everybody will have an opinion, but when I go out there, I play for this crest," he said proudly, pointing to the badge on his sweat-filled maroon shirt, shortly after winning the title for the first time.
So enigmatic is Sammy’s persona that even in moments of triumph he is still made to answer questions about his role in the side.
The critics, none of whom have been overly shy, contend that he wouldn't even be in the side if he wasn't the captain in the first place, saying he robs more talented all-rounders of a spot on the team.
They also claim he is a West Indies Cricket Board-man, an on-field leader for the off-field administration, as if staying away from controversy and focusing on cricket was a bad thing.
Nonetheless, through all the condemnation, Sammy has always worn a broad smile. And history will judge him kindly for it.
The rise, fall and merry-go-round of West Indies cricket has been well documented with millions of column inches, hours of film and the incessant banter which overflows from the minds and mouths of most in the Caribbean.
However, last weekend, Sammy, along with his band of brothers, got their vindication.
Appointed captain of the side in October 2010 having played just eight Tests, it has taken him two long years to prove to the world that he is just as capable as any other player that has come before him.
He did not campaign for the captaincy, but the role was thrusted upon him nevertheless. He could have turned his back or buckled under the pressure but throughout it all, he continued to smile.
Also of note: he never hid from the ever-present glare of the media, far less the difficult questions that came his way, many times on a daily basis. With the cameras rolling and the light-bulbs flashing, he continued to repeat his mantra of staying positive amidst the despair.
How difficult a task this must have been with the overwhelming pressure for positive results bearing down heavily upon him.
To compound matters, he is far from the most exciting cricketer to watch; with the bat nor the ball. Truth be told, Sammy is as awkward as they come.
Yet, the man knows his strengths and weakness probably better than any other player in the modern game.
He also plays with a dignity seldom seen in a man so ordinary. His commitment to West Indies cricket is simply beyond question.
When today becomes yesterday and tomorrow today, Darren Sammy will not be remembered for a particular innings or a match-winning haul; he will be remembered as the man that led the West Indies to the top of a mountain in the summer of 2012.
For him, the view must be breathtaking.